SM Taste Test
SM Taste Test

‘It's that bad’: The vegan meal you should avoid

BURGER patties without a trace of meat, snags that are 100 per cent plant-based and chicken made of lentils - meat-free meat is fast becoming a must-have for Queensland diners.

In supermarkets and restaurants, there is an ever-expanding range of meat-like products and it's not just vegans looking for the convincing substitutes.

A recent study showed the number of plant-based "meat" products in Australian supermarkets has increased by more than 400 per cent since 2015.

As of September, a staggering 137 products ranging from 'bleeding' burgers to nut roasts were found across major stores.

OUR TASTE TESTERS TRIED SEVERAL PLANT-BASED MEALS. SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THEIR VERDICT

Haruna Nakagawa with a platter of vegan sushi at Izayaka Midori. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Haruna Nakagawa with a platter of vegan sushi at Izayaka Midori. Picture: Nigel Hallett

 

New to the scene is plant-based sashimi, which is a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds.

Vegan couple Yuka and Sumiyoshi Iwasaki wanted to redefine Japanese cuisine.

Their plant-based restaurant Izakaya Midori, on the Gold Coast, pioneers unique dishes including vegan ramen, gyoza and sushi.

"We have lots of customers from Sydney and Melbourne who say they don't have Japanese restaurants that are plant based," Mrs Iwasaki said.

Each piece of vegan sushi is meticulously hand decorated and died with colours extracted from array of vegetables including beetroots and carrots.

Mrs Iwasaki said the restaurant uses konjac, a potato-like Asian vegetable, king oyster mushroom and vegetable puree to emulate the texture of meat and seafood.

"Our secret special sauce creates that seafood taste, just like sushi," Mrs Iwasaki said.

"I don't' want to push to the people about what's vegan … If they think this is yummy food, and the service is good, we hope people will warm to the idea of plant-based food."

 

Charly Wagner at Moo-Free Burgers says many customers don’t realise they are eating meat-free food. Picture: Jamie Hanson
Charly Wagner at Moo-Free Burgers says many customers don’t realise they are eating meat-free food. Picture: Jamie Hanson

 

Meanwhile vegan burger restaurant, Moo-Free Burgers, has been serving up mock-meat burgers since December 2016.

Staffer Charly Wagner, 17, said a lot of customers don't realise the burgers were meat-free.

"We have a variety of customers, lots of them aren't vegan or vegetarian," she said.

"It's definitely becoming more popular to eat vegan foods with the rise of Instagram and more people concerned about climate change."

Plant Nutrition and Wellness Dietitian Kiah Patez said there had been a spike in non-vegans cooking and buying plant-based meals.

"Not everyone wants to make the switch to a completely vegan diet … Eating more plant-based foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and legumes is rich in nutrients that the body thrives off," she said

Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) researchers found plant-based meats were lower in kilojoules, fats, and protein, yet higher in carbohydrates, and dietary fibre in comparison to traditional animal-based meats.

However, are often higher in salt than their meat counterparts.

"Mock meats can be a great replacement for meat when you are first moving towards a vegan diet, however, these products are often highly processed and can be high in salt," Ms Patez said.

She said it was best to only eat mock meats occasionally.

 

Taste test

THE Sunday Mail taste team went cold Tofurkey to test the range of animal-friendly meals available, assessing their taste, appearance, texture and likability. Wolfe Restaurant owner and chef Josh Lopez, Sunday Mail Taste editor Anooska Tucker-Evans and Courier-Mail associate editor Kylie Lang give their verdict.

 

Taste testers Anooska Tucker-Evans, Kylie Lang and chef Josh Lopez. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
Taste testers Anooska Tucker-Evans, Kylie Lang and chef Josh Lopez. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

 

SOULFRESH TOFURKEY ITALIAN SAUSAGE 250g - $6.50

Josh: It's not a hero item, which we look for in the meat world. We look for ingredients that have simplicity in their form but can stand up on their own proudly.6/10

Kylie: It tastes a bit like cardboard to me, a bit dense. It doesn't have a lot of natural flavour. Does it taste like meat? Not really. 6/10

Anooska: It's really dry and missing a lot of moisture.

It would need all the tomato sauce in the world.5/10

 

PLANT-BASED THAI GREEN CURRY WITH RICE 350g - $10.00

Josh: Traditionally the curry paste would have fish sauce and shrimp paste, but the components have always been vegetables. As a chef, I don't eat a lot of packet food, but it seems to be a fair effort of at least retaining some texture. 7/10

Kylie: It has an interesting texture. Visually it doesn't look great, it looks minced up, and you're missing those nice chunks of proper chicken and vibrant colours. 7/10

Anooska: If you have that as a ready meal straight out of the freezer, you'd be quite happy with it. For a packet meal, it's completely acceptable. 7/10

 

MADE WITH PLANTS: PLANT-BASED STROGANOFF WITH RICE 350g - $10.00

Josh: I think they tried to attempt something that should never have been - and don't call it stroganoff. You'd expect the meat substitute to have its own seasoning but it tastes underseasoned.2/10

Kylie: I feel like my dog wouldn't even eat that. It should have a really beautiful flavour to it and be soft and tender but it's like eating a shoe. I wouldn't eat that, and it's not healthy either. 1/10

Anooska: It tastes like I'm eating the sole of my shoe. You can't even taste the flavour - it's got next to no flavour. 2/10

 

THE VEGAN FACTOR CHICKENEE STRIPS 300g - $7.50

Josh: It tastes like pasta that's been overcooked and fried, that lasagne bit that gets no meat, flavour or love. That's essentially what it is, pasta. 3/10

Kylie: It doesn't look that bad.

They started out grey, now they're golden. Not as dry as that first sausage but it doesn't taste like chicken. 2/10

Anooska: It's really drying in my mouth because it's all just dry wheat. It's got a lot of salt and doesn't taste like chicken at all. 3/10

 

Our taste testers weren’t fans of the Next Gen2 burgers.
Our taste testers weren’t fans of the Next Gen2 burgers.

 

NEXT GEN2 PLANT BASED BURGER 450g - $8.00

Josh:I'm laughing because it's that bad. Even wine tasting, you taste bad wine but you try to find something good, because somebody's gotta make money off this. There's nothing saving it. 0/10

Kylie: I don't know what's in it, and I don't want to know. It's inedible and two of us had to spit ours out, it's that bad. That belongs in the garbage disposal in the kitchen sink. 0/10

Anooska:You couldn't feed anyone that - it's the worst thing I've possibly ever put in my mouth. I would rather lick a dirty barbecue than eat that. 0/10


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